The big one. Three words every Californian knows all too well.
“The earthquake is inevitable. The only question is when,” said Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “It might not be another 50 years. Maybe even 100. Chances of us making it through the 21st century without the earthquake is very small.”
Jones is heading up a new effort by Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti to prepare the city for what experts say is unavoidable: a massive quake similar or worse to the one that hit the city in 1994.
The magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake claimed 57 lives and left $20 billion worth of damage in its wake, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history. Jones warned the next one will likely have a similar impact.
She estimated the death toll from a quake with a magnitude 7.5 or higher could approach 2,000. That is a figure echoed by California’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.
“There’s a better than 50-50 chance that we’ll have a catastrophic earthquake in California that will kill thousands of people and be enormously fiscally devastating,” said Brown in January, when he unveiled his proposal for $1.49 million in funding for a fault mapping project.
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